You see, I have always felt a bit of a pioneer in my Christian faith as far as my family goes. It hasn't felt to me like I have any great heritage, but rather that I have been striking out on my own in a new direction. In the last years of her life I became aware that my maternal grandmother's faith was something very real to her and that was a welcome touchstone. But apart from that I have not felt that I stand in any great stream of heritage. Perhaps this is why I have so appreciated Kristen's family and their strong faith with its concern for the generations.
So the first thing I discovered was that my great great grandfather Henry Garland was a church planter of sorts. He is on the record as having moved the motion that confirmed the establishment of a church for the small settler community at Awhitu in 1863. I loved discovering that sense of purpose and foresight in this man, who understood that foundations needed to be laid in spiritual as well as infrastructural areas.
But I was unprepared for the service itself. As I stood there in this beautiful building, lovingly preserved by the generations, I became aware of a deep and abiding sense of connection to the place and all who had gone before. I wondered for a moment if I was going to be able to hold it together...it was a moment of standing in the tradition and heritage of a family that I had just discovered. I found myself experiencing that "longing to return" that was captured by "Awhitu". And it mattered that I had some spiritual roots of my own.